John Moss shows his custom-made pens (far left) and specialty knives from France. Photo: C. Leinbach

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By Connie Leinbach

Ocracoke may be known for its decoy carvers, but some may be surprised to know about a little shop that sells hand-lathed pens and custom-made knives from France.

In the Knife and Pen Shop at 290 Sunset Dr., seekers of the unusual will find pens, darts, measuring spoons and duck calls made on the lathe by owner John Moss.

He and his wife, Ginny, used to own the Gathering Place shop, formerly in Spencer’s Market and prior to that, “downtown” on the Ocracoke docks. Customers sought out Moss’s custom creations and still do.

Most of his pens, fashioned as rifles, bullets or with skull heads, have barrels made from island cedar trees.

“I try to use cedar from my backyard,” Moss said as he displayed each unique pen. “It means a little more.”

His tavern darts, measuring spoons and duck calls also are from local cedar.

“People sometimes bring me wood,” he said.

Moss points out the authenticity of his Laguiole shepherd’s knives.

His other major line are shepherd’s pocket knives from the Forge de Laguiole, France.

These folding knives made from exotic woods, such as pistachio or briar, have tiny crosses embedded in the wood.

“The shepherds made these and then put them in the dirt and prayed over them because they couldn’t get to church,” Moss said.

Moss also has a line of handcrafted fixed blade hunting knives from Buck N Bear Knives, New Holland, Pa.

While the couple has been in business on Ocracoke since 1983, the shop will soon depart since the Moss’s house recently was sold. The shop will close the first week in May to get ready for the move, Ginny said.

All items can be viewed and purchased online at, or call Moss at 252-928-7180.

Moss shows a Damascus knife, which he also sells.

On his lathe, Moss makes custom darts like these as well as measuring spoons.
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  1. We have several of his pens, they are really nice, and get a lot of comments from people when we pull them out and use them.

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